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Lott wants Judge Pickering confirmed

By By William F. West / community editor
Nov. 7, 2002
One of Trent Lott's top priorities when he becomes Senate majority leader again will be confirming U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lott was unavailable for comment Wednesday. But spokesman Lee Youngblood said the senator wants to move quickly on the nomination of his fellow Mississippian and father of U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering.
Pickering, 65, of Laurel, has presided on U.S. District Court for Southern Mississippi since 1990. The Senate Judiciary Committee blocked Pickering's nomination to the 5th Circuit Court in March by a 10-9 vote.
Lott has alleged that Democrats on the committee were unfair to Pickering and other judges President Bush nominated, including minorities, because they didn't cotton to liberal opinions on issues.
Republican gains
Lott, a Republican first elected to the Senate in 1988, had served as Senate majority leader from June 1996 until June 2001 after Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont bolted the GOP and became an independent.
Lott is in line to assume the top Senate leadership post after Republicans regained control of the body in Tuesday's general election.
In Mississippi and in Meridian, Republican leaders praised the party's gains in Congress including Chip Pickering's election to the newly redrawn 3rd Congressional District.
Pickering defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows who was pitted against the Republican after congressional redistricting cost Mississippi one of its five U.S. House seats.
Meridian attorney Rick Barry co-chaired Pickering's campaign in Lauderdale County and also served on Pickering's district steering committee.
Barry said Pickering's victory will be a continued plus for the district which includes Naval Air Station Meridian and a base at Key Field for an Air National Guard refueling wing.
Mississippi gains
Barry said he believes the GOP's retaking of the Senate will not only return Lott as majority leader, but also could put Mississippi's senior senator, Thad Cochran, in position to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
Meridian businessman and GOP activist Gil Carmichael said he believes Bush played a major role in the elections nationwide including rural Mississippi.
In August, Bush campaigned for Pickering in Madison County and headlined a $500,000 GOP fund-raiser at the Jackson Hilton. Carmichael said everywhere he went, people told him they supported Bush.